Snow, icy roads could make for dicey travel
Freezing drizzle left a layer of ice over most of the Brainerd area Sunday, coating streets and sidewalks and slowing traffic on unplowed roads.
On Monday, the freezing drizzle was replaced by snow, with 2 to 3 inches possible by Tuesday morning, the National Weather Service in Duluth reported. A winter weather advisory was in effect until midnight Monday.
And after a reprieve Tuesday, more snow and freezing drizzle is expected to impact the Brainerd area starting Wednesday and into Thanksgiving Day.
Alex Lamers, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Duluth, said as much as 3 to 4 inches is possible Wednesday afternoon and Wednesday night.
"It doesn't sound like a lot but I would be more focused on the snowfall rates," Lamers said. "It could come down pretty fast. That will be the thing more to focus on. It could impact road conditions."
Precipitation that will start out as snow Wednesday is expected to turn to freezing drizzle after midnight Wednesday, Lamers said.
Local and state plow crews worked throughout the day Monday to clear roads of ice and snow ahead of the next snow event.
Tom Wryk, Minnesota Department of Transportation maintenance superintendent for District 3A in the Brainerd/Baxter area, said crews worked late Monday to clear ice-packed roads with sand and chemicals.
"We can usually deal with a few inches of snow. It's that liquid precipitation that falls on roads and coats the roads that causes problems," Wryk said. "That's far and away the worst hazard we encounter. Freezing rain is the worst."
Wednesday's storm has the potential to impact Thanksgiving holiday travel, said Judy Jacobs, MnDOT communications specialist in Baxter. MnDOT reminded motorists to drive slowly on bridges, overpasses and tunnels; use a safe speed for winter driving conditions, regardless of the posted speed limit; keep a safe stopping distance from the vehicle in front of you; and keep both hands on the steering wheel, your eyes on the road and your attention on your driving.
For the most part, area motorists adjusted well to the ice and snow covered roadways. The State Patrol reported a few vehicles sliding off roadways Sunday and Monday and some minor crashes but no serious injuries. There also were few reports of crashes from the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Department, Baxter Police Department and Brainerd Police Department.
"I think the conditions are so bad out there people are being extra cautious," Baxter Police Chief Jim Exsted said.
Crow Wing County Sheriff's Capt. Neal Gaalswyk said motorists have found their winter legs.
"I know when I was out driving around people were being cautious at intersections and allowing extra spaces between vehicles," Gaalswyk said. "One thing about weather like this, it tends to slow traffic down and makes crashes that do occur somewhat less severe."
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.